Info Military aviation (Mil-air)
Air Force bases
Air Force bases are scattered throughout the Netherlands. Each base has a specialization. The Air Force’s F-16s and F-35s are stationed at Leeuwarden (EHLW) and Volkel (EHVK) air bases. Transportfly has Eindhoven (EHEH) as its home base. Gilze-Rijen Air Base (EHGR) plays a key role in the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC). Woensdrecht Air Base (EHWO) differs from the other bases because this base houses a number of units that have a mission for the entire air force in training, logistics and meteorology.
Leeuwarden Air Base
Leeuwarden Air Base (EHLW) is located northwest of the city of Leeuwarden. The Dutch F-35s are stationed at the air base. Leeuwarden Air Base provides 24/7 (periodic) protection of the Benelux airspace against unidentified air threats (Quick Reaction Alert). By 2023, the air base will have access to 4 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, the MQ-9 Reaper. The airport has 2 runways: RWY 5/23 and RWY 9/27.
Traffic control Dutch Mil
Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen (AOCS NM) is located in Nieuw Milligen. Air traffic control in the military parts of Dutch airspace over land and over part of the North Sea is in the hands of the “Dutch Mil”. They are able to operate military and civilian air traffic safely and efficiently. The traffic control provided by Dutch Mil consists of 3 main tasks:
- General traffic control
- Approach control in military terminal control areas (TMAs)
- Fly information
The approach control for the military air bases and MVK de Kooij is located in Nieuw Milligen. They provide guidance in Radar Approach Control or RAPCON clusters. These are:
- RAPCON North (Leeuwarden)
- RAPCON South (Volkel and Eindhoven)
- RAPCON Vest
They monitor the departure and approach procedures of these radar airports, and they monitor the flight movements around them. As Dutch Mil Info guides the smaller aviation and military traffic flying through military airspace under visual conditions (VFR = Visual Flight Rules).
The Combat Command (called “Bandbox”) is a crisis and war mission and also part of NATO’s integrated air defense system. The Control and Reporting Center (CRC) monitors and coordinates the defense of Dutch and NATO airspace by performing a number of basic tasks for which the Air Command Control System (ACCS) is available. These basic tasks are:
- Fighter Control: Coordination of aircraft movements in the air defense role.
- Air Battle Management: Execution of a series of command measures to coordinate NATO’s combat command.
- Air surveillance: surveillance of the aerial image using radar (24/7).
- SAM control: coordinating the deployment of ground-based air defense within NATO territory.
- Alarm: Alarm of other armed forces (sub) units.
- Air Police: performs interceptions in the air.
For the exercise of Air Policing, there are always a few F-16s on the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at one of the two remaining main operational bases (Leeuwarden Air Base or Volkel). This means that they can be airborne in a very short time. Following an order from CRC, the so-called Scramble, they immediately begin to intercept an ‘unknown’ aircraft.
Dutch airspace is monitored using the two larger Earth radars (Nieuw Milligen and Wier). This involves checking whether aircraft have a flight plan, the correct transponder codes, and whether they are following the correct flight route. Deviations always lead to radio contact with the aircraft in question; the call signal used here is ‘Bandbox’. If this has no effect, the aircraft will be intercepted by F-16s.
Air to air (A / A)
Air-to-air (A / A) includes operations performed from air to air. There are different types of A / A operations in military aviation. Some examples of this are:
- Air-to-air refueling (AAR)
- Interceptions / visual identification (VID)
- Basic Fighter Maneuvers (BFM)
- Flight formation
- Escort flights
- Air Combat Patrol (CAP)
Areas of practice
Training and exercises take place on a daily basis, which require specific skills that a military pilot must master. Low flying and flying in the dark are examples of this. It is indispensable skills that make all the difference in dangerous and risky situations. In the Netherlands, a number of areas have been designated as practice areas (see image below). These areas also include the Vliehors Range. This area is located on the westernmost part of the Vade Island Vlieland. The Royal Netherlands Air Force and NATO partners practice regularly here. The area is approximately 17 square kilometers and houses various targets for aircraft: bomb targets, firing targets and missile targets.
Terminal Maneuvering Areas (TMA)
Traffic control areas around / over one or more military airfields. In a TMA, oncoming and outgoing traffic to and from an airport is monitored, as well as air traffic crossing the TMA. The following TMAs are active in the Netherlands:
- TMA A (including Leeuwarden Air Base, NW-Friesland, Wadden Sea and Wadden Islands, head of North Holland, NW-Groningen)
- TMA B (ZO-Friesland, Noordoostpolder, head of Overijssel, Gelderland)
- TMA C (East Overijssel. Northern border at Stadskanaal, southern border south of Enschede Airport Twente)
- TMA D (South Gelderland and North Brabant (east) and North Limburg. Gilze-Rijen Air Base, Volkel Air Base)
- TMA G1 Above Woensdrecht Air Base, Tholen, South Beveland
- TMA G2 Above Airport Central Zeeland, North Beveland, Walcheren, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen
Transponder (Squawk) encoder
A transponder code consists of four digits and is issued by an aircraft to help air traffic controllers separate traffic. A transponder code is generally referred to as a squawk code and is assigned by air traffic controllers to specifically identify an aircraft. This code makes it easy to spot this aircraft on the radar. The “squawk codes” contain four digits. There are also codes, which are not unique to each aircraft, but which have their own meaning and are used to send information about the aircraft to the flight control, such as when the aircraft is in an emergency (7700) or when there is a communication problem (7600).
Squawk 1313-1314 – Quick Reaction Warning
Squawk 1501-1507 – CRC (blue air)
Squawk 2420-2427 – CRC (Red Air)
Squawk 4301-4347 – The Kooy Airport
Squawk 4330-4337 – Wednesday Air Base
Squawk 4340-4357 – Gilze-Rijen Air Base
Squawk 5101 – VFR Mil-air en route
Squawk 5104 – VFR Mil-air Cornfield
Squawk 5110 – VFR Mil-air Low Flight Path
Squawk 5111-5112 – Unmanned aerial vehicle
Squawk 5177 – Coast Guard
Squawk 5401-5457 – Volkel. Air Base
Squawk 5401-5467 – Leeuwarden Air Base
Squawk 5460-5477 – Eindhoven Airport
Squawk 5470-5477 – Airport Eelde
Squawk 7056 – Open Skies Flight
Squawk 7050-7057 – Special Tasks
Squawk 7500 – Illegal Interference
Squawk 7600 – Communication Error
Squawk 7700 – Emergency
Squawk 6421 – Lifeliner-1
Squawk 6422 – Lifeliner-2
Squawk 6423 – Lifeliner-3
Squawk 6424 – Lifeliner-4
(The above information is partly taken from Wikipedia and Defense.nl)